Joshua Rich
November 10, 2006 AT 05:00 AM EST

Entertainment Weekly The U.S. has so many problems of its own — why should we care about African blood diamonds?
Edward Zwick Smuggled diamonds were a very important source of money laundering for al-Qaeda in the run-up to 9/11. More than that, I think at the heart of the movie is some question about our consumerism as it pertains to the resources of other places.

EW Still, you must feel it’s important to keep in mind that this is entertainment.
EZ You have to. The point is to make a commercial movie that fulfills the expectations people have in going to the theater. If along with that comes a set of questions or ideas that they hadn’t considered, so much the better. I’m more interested in those who know nothing about the subject than in preaching to the choir. How much more interesting to present a set of images to 19-year-olds who have never given a thought to any of this?

EW Is that desire to educate your main goal?
EZ Look, it’s never clear how much a movie changes the culture that sees it. But there were many moments in the tradition of American films when entertainment and ideas were not considered to be mutually exclusive. I was raised seeing some of those movies and admiring them and believing that’s a noble tradition to partake in.

EW Diamonds have always played a big part in Hollywood glamour. How do you think this issue is going to play out on the red carpet this year?
EZ There’s an interesting complicity between Hollywood and the diamond industry having to do with the mythology of diamonds. In the ’30s, they began encouraging studios to have starlets wear diamonds and loaning them to actresses for the red carpet. So maybe this movie, for all that it’s aspiring to do, may do a bit of historical redress and demythologize diamonds just a little.

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